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Potential top draft pick Carlos Rodon threw 132 pitches in a complete game loss on Friday

Apr 26, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

Carlos Rodon Carlos Rodon

NC State Wolfpack starter Carlos Rodon is expected to be one of the first few players taken in the upcoming amateur draft. However, his coaches certainly isn’t being careful with his precious arm. In a complete game loss to Georgia Tech on Friday, Rodon threw 132 pitches. Overall, Rodon allowed one run on six hits and two walks while striking out 15.

As Chris Crawford of MLB Draft Insider noted on Twitter, Rodon has tossed a total of 379 pitches over his last three starts, an average of 126 pitches per start. It’s one thing for a veteran Major League pitcher to average 126 pitches over three starts, but it’s very concerning that the Wolfpack have been riding Rodon’s arm so heavily. As his age implies, the 21-year-old’s arm is still developing and still getting used to a strenuous workload.

ESPN’s Keith Law wrote a column on April 13 raising concern after NC State had Rodon throw 134 pitches. Law criticized Rodon’s coaching staff for making him throw so many pitches:

This was a clear example of a coaching staff putting their own interests over those of a pitcher, a perfect example of moral hazard at work in amateur baseball, one that calls for regulation by the NCAA.

The plight of college athletes has gained some publicity lately with Northwestern football’s quest to unionize and University of Connecticut basketball player Shabazz Napier telling the media that some nights he went to bed “starving”. It’s easy to see the abuse of top-tier pitchers and it’s even easier to see why it happens.

NC State Wolfpack baseball head coach Elliott Avent and associate head coach Tom Holliday don’t get more money or more job security by protecting Rodon. Taking him out of the game after 90 pitches means the team would need to rely on inferior pitchers, making them more likely to lose games. And when the team loses more games, that reflects poorly on the coaching staff. Rodon won’t be giving Avent ten percent of his signing bonus, so what is Avent’s motivation to do anything other than ride Rodon’s arm into the ground, vying for wins?

Unfortunately, Rodon is in a sticky situation. He can’t say no to his manager, as insubordination will stick with him throughout his professional career and it will make him an easy target for controversy. But he also shouldn’t have to put up with being forced to throw nearly 130 pitches every time he pitches. NC State’s season ends on May 17, so Rodon only has another handful of starts to make before he can look forward to starting his professional baseball career. Let’s hope that the miles put on his arm only makes him stronger, and doesn’t make him any more likely to turn into the next Mark Prior.

  1. wiscotom - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    Yeah, you’d hate to overwork him. Teams have done a great job prevent pitching injuries like UCL tears lately with strict pitching regiments.

  2. largebill - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    “The plight of college athletes has gained some publicity lately with Northwestern football’s quest to unionize and University of Connecticut basketball player Shabazz Napier telling the media that some nights he went to bed “starving”.”

    Plight of college athletes? Really? While I agree some coaches don’t seem concerned about a pitcher’s arm going forward, I have a hard time working up any concern over a basketball player saying he goes to bed hungry. Free college education and a free meal plan is a pretty good deal. If your family can’t provide you a little spending cash for late night snacks then get a job and buy your own snacks. If you don’t want to work for your late night snacks then I guess you’re not really that darn hungry.

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      Free college education and a free meal plan is a pretty good deal

      Is it free if they have to work for it? If they stopped putting in 50-60 hour weeks, practicing, games, training, etc, would they get to keep the education and meal plan?

      If your family can’t provide you a little spending cash for late night snacks then get a job and buy your own snacks

      They can’t get a job, which is the entire point.

      • barrywhererufrom - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Well who said they should be playing intercollegiate sports? Once again we are left with a situation that these athlete’s are playing under their own free will. I was broke as a college student. I came from a single family income. I managed by working over summers. Again if these “students athletes” have an issue with getting paid for playing a college sport then maybe they shouldn’t be in college in the first place. I wish that colleges would disband their scholarships for all sports. Then the BS of the fake student athlete debate would be over.

      • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        I want to see you confirm something for me…
        You believe that if your son or daughter goes to college on an engineering scholarship…
        If they create the next great widget, worth millions, that they should not profit at all
        That 100% of the profit from the widget is property of the school.

        Please confirm that you believe that to be fair and something you’re willing to accept.

        The people who are against college athletes getting paid forget who should be the ones paying them.

        The MLB, NFL and NBA are the ones who should be paying them at least Min. wage for time spent at practice, travel and games, and the schools provide free classes and board if the student even wants them. There should be no requirement for class

        All pro sports league are using college as minor leagues for free, and the colleges don’t complain because they are the ones making money hand over fist.

        As for the idea of ridding college of scholarships for sport, you do have some clue just how much money these sports are providing for school upgrades right?
        And if you’re against paying them and against scholarship, why are athletes choosing schools?

        I’ll tell you, they will choose by which shady booster pays them the most money. Like many have done for a long time, it would just be on a massively larger scale.

    • barrywhererufrom - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      The idea of a college scholarship means nothing to the proponent’s of collegiate athletes’
      getting paid. I word in higher education in New York the costs for some private colleges is 50k per year. That is expensive for many Americans. I don’t know where to go with this pitch count story. My personal belief is that pitchers mechanics maybe the reason for so many TJ surgies. But when he have these high pitch counts like Rodon you are not helping the situation of safety.

      • paperlions - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        No one says it is worth nothing, what they do say is that the rules that prohibit players from poor families from having supplemental income or even from getting jobs so that they can buy food or clothes are stupid.

        The NCAA (which should not be confused with universities, college athletics are bleeding US universities dry) is making billions, media outlets are making billions, coaches are making millions, most of the athletes make nothing…and their scholarships aren’t even guaranteed, coaches can and do pull them whenever they feel like if for whatever reason.

      • alexo0 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:35 AM

        For someone working in higher education, you’re grammar/spelling is pretty slack.

      • cohnjusack - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        I word in higher education in New York the costs for some private colleges is 50k per year.

        *Crosses fingers*
        Please be a writing teacher, please be a writing teacher…

      • ud1951 - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        Paperlions, I agree with your sentiment, but the scholarships do include tuition, room and board. I sincerely doubt any Division 1 athlete is underfed and needs a part time job just get enough calories.

        The chances of a college scholarship athlete making millions by turning pro are extremely low. If you are one of these athletes, you would be wise to take advantage of the opportunity the college has offered you, you know, actually go to class and get an education. For 98 or 99 out of 100, that is the benefit of college athletics and that is what is going to feed you in the future.

      • paperlions - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:54 PM

        Their scholarships includes what you get for living in a dorm. Feel free to try to get by as a 18-22 yr old guy eating only the amount of food included with that plan….much less being an athlete. Never when I lived on a campus did I not have to spend a LOT of my own money for food.

        People act like the few things that come with those scholarships are some how enough. Not only are they NOT enough, they come with rules that prevent people from poor families from being able to make money so that they can pay for food or clothes…..and some of these athletes are responsible for a bunch of old white guys making billions of dollars/year….but they can’t take a job to be able to buy food when the cafeterias are closed.

        These guys are not student athletes in the eyes of universities. They are employees. They control everything about their lives that they can and they can toss them aside at any time for injury, lack or performance….anything. Big time college athletics are using these guys for fame and fortune and giving the guys on which 100% of the industry is based nearly 0% of that revenue. Every university would be better if athletics disappeared tomorrow, they are a money pit that don’t pay for themselves even at the biggest schools. Sure, a few places cook the books to make it look like they make money or are sustainable…but they never pay for upkeep of facilities or grounds out of their own budgets, universities do. Once the necessary infrastructure to cover athletics is included, every university loses money….and most are losing many millions to sports every year.

      • ud1951 - Apr 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        And unionizing college athletes and classifying them as employees of these money losing institutions is the answer? Or abolish all college sports because some colleges take them out of proportion and as a result lose millions? Your logic escapes me, that college sports are a huge drain on university finances but they ought to have to pay student athletes a bigger share. I reject your argument that, given a full scholarship to a major university, some kid who met the entrance requirements simply cannot survive for four years on the benefits the scholarship provides. A kid from a poor family may not live lavishly, but he is hardly getting by on prisoner rations in prison-like conditions.

        In my college years and later when I taught at a Division 1 college, there was an athletes dorm and dining hall, it catered to these scholarship athletes and they ate way better than I did or any other non athlete did. My point was, the athletes are not starving, if a university is actually denying scholarship athletes enough calories to survive, that is a scandal and everyone in that university’s leadership should be held to account.

        Your statements are overwrought and may reflect the conditions at one school or another, but at most schools, most coaches and staffs understand the world as I described it, very few athletes actually get the millions from pro sports, so they encourage their athletes to attend class and do the academic work to prepare themselves for productive lives even if they don’t get an opportunity to play professional sports.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:58 AM

      Well, at least you completely understand the issue you are addressing. God forbid you make a strong statement without understanding the actual rules of NCAA competition.

      Get a job and work for your late night snacks. I can’t believe they never thought of that. Unless, of course, getting a job would force them to forfeit all remaining eligibility or something like that.

      *face palm*.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      I hope you also believe that anything anyone creates while on scholarship needs to hand over 100% of the profits to the school.

      All those billions that Zuckerberg made off of Facebook is rightfully Harvard’s right? Anything an engineer creates while on scholarship should be 100% property of the school and 100% of the profits as well. I mean hey, he’s getting paid to go to the school right?

      Oh and of course there is the whole part about how they should LOL, get a job and work for money….
      Gotta love when people who have no clue how the system works has an opinion anyways.

      But let’s pretend student athletes are allowed to find a job while on scholarship.
      They are supposed to work out, practice, travel, play, go to class, study, eat and sleep AND find a part time job?

      Seriously, how do you anti-union, anti-college athlete types manage to remain so absolutely clueless on this subject?

      • yahmule - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:55 AM

        Because willful ignorance is a point of pride for many people.

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:20 PM

        The funniest/saddest part is they’re the same people who will blather on about the free market without understanding a whit about what the free market entails. Here’s a hint – monopsonistic cartels are not a part of it.

  3. otrd13 - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    Pitch counts are out of control. I never understood how its ‘logical’ to assume that high pitch counts equates to more arm injuries or a shorter mlb career with no data to support that and the cautionary tales of a hand full of mark priors. Meanwhile everyone and there mother is getting tommy johns in the mlb. I’m not saying I have the answer but if I’m the mlb im investing in research for long term studies.

    • paperlions - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      Except, of course, that the world’s foremost expert on the UCL has said that the primary cause is over use at a young age and pitching year around instead of just during the season.

    • clydeserra - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      you are right, you don’t have the answer.

  4. barrywhererufrom - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    I have to say as a coach in little league my ten year kids are set to throw a max of 75 pitches..once that is hit the player can not pitch for 5 days. The rules are there for a reason. Again we are trying to protect kids. The one caveat being when a child pitches in a Uteam and little league then it’s up to his parents to tell the truth how many pitches their child has thrown..

    • [citation needed] fka COPO - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      It’s been a long time since I participated in LL, but there used to be an innings limit each kid could throw per week. Did they get rid of that?

      • largebill - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Each organization has a different standard, but pretty much all have a pitch limit based on age. Best max I’ve seen for a single day is 6 pitches per year of age. 11 year old can’t go past 66, 12 year old maxes out at 72, etc. And number of days rest is also dependent on how many pitches you throw and changes as you get older. Now, the obligation of the coach is to watch more than just a raw number of pitches. If kid is at 40 pitches and suddenly looks different (loss of control, slight change to mechanics, etc) it can be a warning sign that he is fatigued. Biggest injury risk is from throwing while fatigued and changing your mechanics.

  5. paperlions - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    Pitching more does not make a UCL stronger. It is a ligament, increase use just wears it out faster.

    Really, the only cost to programs is if they abuse guys so much that they get hurt and future players who are concerned about having coaches that protect their futures shy away from such programs.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      And yet, Augie Garrido can still get whatever pitcher he wants.

      • paperlions - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Yeah, well….it isn’t like most teenagers or their parents know enough to even deal effectively with the coaches of traveling teams or HS, much less a college coach.

  6. nbjays - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Might as well pre-book his TJ surgery right now…

  7. luz56 - Apr 26, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    I never in my college day paid for a meal… Local pizza joint and burger hideaway alway had a free meal..there was always some jock sniffing fluffer willing to buy

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      The NCAA would like to strip you of your scholarship and ban you for a year

      Only they may get free piazza and burgers

      • Kevin S. - Apr 26, 2014 at 1:26 PM

        Unfortunately for them they didn’t get free Piazza – he went to community college instead.

  8. andreweac - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM

    Rodon should simply tell his manager to f’ck off.

    Not to any decent high school pitcher — do NOT go to NC state.

    • yahmule - Apr 26, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      It worked for Robbie Benson.

  9. beermakers - Apr 26, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    If you don’t like the way the NCAA does things, then don’t play college sports.

    I agree its grimy how the NCAA does things.

    Since it is SO terrible, then don’t play, pay your tuition, maybe you and your family would like that more.

  10. zdravit - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    Pitch count is just a number.

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